In the News

Sarah Jane Weaver: ‘Make no mistake about it’ — How President, Sister Nelson reminded me of my divine potential

It was an email no one wants to send.

I had published a Church News article quoting President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, before realizing I had made an error.

The mistake had unfortunately been duplicated thousands of times when the Church News had gone to press a few hours earlier.

Realizing the mistake, I drafted a brief message to President and Sister Nelson. I explained the error, apologized and promised a correction.

Hitting send on the message was agonizing.  

To my great surprise and astonishment, however, President Nelson responded personally.

He said nothing about the mistake, instead expressing confidence in me and my abilities. He signed his message with the word “gratefully.”

The exchange was brief, but had a lasting impact. I have continued to question how President Nelson was able — and willing — to express confidence and gratitude in a moment that should have sown doubt.

I received an answer this month when President and Sister Nelson addressed young adults, ages 18 to 30, across the globe.

During the meeting — the first full-capacity gathering in the Conference Center since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — President Nelson invited the worldwide congregation to learn the truth about who they are and what Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have offered them.

Areli Anguiano and Jovany Fortes smile outside the Conference Center in Salt Lake City before the worldwide young adult devotional on May 15, 2022.

Areli Anguiano and Jovany Fortes smile outside the Conference Center in Salt Lake City before the worldwide young adult devotional on May 15, 2022.

Credit: Mary Richards

“I believe that if the Lord were speaking to you directly tonight, the first thing He would make sure you understand is your true identity,” President Nelson said. “My dear friends, you are literally spirit children of God.”

He taught all of us three fundamental truths that can direct our lives — and guide our interactions with others.

“First: Know the truth about who you are. 

“Second: Know the truth about what Heavenly Father and His Son have offered you. 

“And third: Know the truth related to your conversion.”

President Nelson’s message is powerful. Identity matters.

I believe it is the reason President Nelson could respond to my error with grace. Knowing that you are a child of God, and understanding what He and His Son have offered you, changes the way you see yourself, he taught. This knowledge also allows us to see others as children of God, filled with divinity and potential, and not just the sum of any designation, label … or mistake.

“Make no mistake about it: Your potential is divine,” President Nelson told the young adults. “With your diligent seeking, God will give you glimpses of who you may become.”

President Nelson blessed the congregation — the first of its kind to convene in the history of the Church — to take charge of their own testimonies and to have the desire and strength to keep their covenants.

“As you do, I promise that you will experience spiritual growth, freedom from fear and a confidence that you can scarcely imagine now,” he said. “You will have the strength to have a positive influence far beyond your natural capacity. And I promise that your future will be more exhilarating than anything you can presently believe.”

President Nelson’s ministry has always been one of looking forward.

During a 2018 interview in Concepción, Chile, Sister Nelson said her husband is “fearless in his focus.” The following day, after dedicating the Concepción Chile Temple, President Nelson would illustrate exactly what she was talking about. “There’s much more to come,” he said. “Wait until next year. Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest.”

With prophetic vision, he expressed great confidence in every member of the Church — “children of God, children of covenant, disciples of Jesus Christ” — and their ability to move the Lord’s work forward.

I felt that forward momentum at the close of President Nelson’s young adult devotional as a choir sang “Let Us All Press On” — the hymn President Nelson has selected to end many of the broadcast devotionals he has participated in during recent months.

The anthem reminds all of us to press forward, without fear, in the work of the Lord, in the glorious cause of truth.

As they sang, I realized a majority of the choir would have been teens when President Nelson became President of the Church four and a half years ago. These were the very youth he enlisted in the Lord’s Battalion — the youth who accepted an invitation to be part of “something big, something grand, something majestic.”

President Nelson has invited all of us to enlist, by making and keeping covenants, in the same cause. 

It is a cause that allows us to see ourselves and others as more than we are now — as what we have the potential to become.

On the day I sent an email to the Nelsons about my error in the Church News, Sister Nelson also sent a brief — and genuinely kind — response.

Make no mistake about it, her sentiment has meaning for each of us enlisted in a cause that is strengthened by our divine identity and potential.

“Onward,” she wrote.

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